Well, it’s me and Sarah here, sitting down to write together! Admittedly, Sarah is so much better at stuff like this! Sarah’s always ready to take a moment to pause our life to really sit and reflect. I’m usually too busy spazzing out about this or that to ever do this! So I’m excited that we’re doing it together now! Today we’re going to talk about what we’ve learned these past 5 years, and as much as we want to share it all, I can’t even imagine combing through all the details of what we’ve learned and experienced and gone through to get to this point! But we’ve compiled the best list here for you!
1. Trust your gut
How many times have we all heard this. We almost feel like rolling our eyes just from writing it! But it’s so true y’all and it’s deeply imperative. The truth is, about 90% of our big mistakes, big failures, and really destructive situations we looked back on and said “dang it” because we had a gut feeling from the beginning that something was off. And that makes those terrible situations so much worse when you have to say to yourself, “we knew better too.”
We’ve learned that even if there’s a huge opportunity up for grabs, or a great deal, or a huge money-making gig, if you’re having second thoughts, or there’s a weird hesitation in the back of your heart, then girl, it’s not worth it! The best thing to do if that’s how you’re feeling is try your best to adjust the situation to fit your terms! For example if it’s a timeline that’s making you second guess, or a certain party who’s involved, do your best to eliminate the detail that’s causing you concern. If that detail can’t be eliminated, then walk away!
2. Set Boundaries and stick to them!
I don’t know why this is number two on the list, because honestly it is number one in our hearts. In a service business like ours where you work directly for people, this is especially true! We’ve learned that if you rearrange 4 appointments just to make room for another your client will begin to expect that same level of sacrifice every time they reach out to you. So next time they call and want to be seen “this afternoon for an emergency!!!” but you can’t meet them, all hell breaks loose. Or if you offer discount pricing for a client for one job due to special circumstances, they’ll expect that same discount pricing forever!
A few years ago a darling frequent shopper would pick up all of our floral scraps off the floor to make wreaths at home! That was fine by us as we were just going to sweep up and throw them away but after a few trips like this, she began asking to just take whole stems for her wreaths. “And what about this? Do you mind if I just take this?” she’d say, pointing to a pillow, or a vase, or a mirror! Lol good grief!
As small business owners we do want to bless every single client and shopper and person we come in contact with, but we’ve learned that can no longer come in the form it used to come in. Because you know what really blesses our client’s? Doing an awesome job on their project. Keeping it under budget, on time, and stress free! You know what really blesses our shoppers? Visiting about how their boy just got into West Point and suggesting the perfect gift for their niece’s 16th birthday!
3. Know your worth (and we don’t just mean financially)
We’ve heard this advice a lot in terms of “charge what you’re worth” which we totally agree with and honestly need to get better at! But what we really have learned over these past 5 years is that sometimes people will do their best to minimize your work, your effort, and your strength.
From business owners saying things like “we need y’all to move your little store somewhere else because our legitimate business needs your space…you can sell your little lamps and stuff anywhere else” to competitors commenting “I just assumed you both had husbands paying for your hobby.”
These comments while enraging, can make you second guess what you’re doing. You can begin to question your purpose but we’re here to say, that’s bull shit. This world needs more women stepping out on faith and being encouraged to do so, not being made to feel small and silly.
4. Honesty and sincerity go a long way
In 5 years, we’ve made a lot of mistakes. Been forgetful, wrote down the wrong address, transposed numbers, missed an order, you name it, we’ve made them all! We’ve learned that the only way to handle these mistakes is by saying “I completely blew it, and I’m so sorry.” This is not common business advice. It’s so much easier to pass the buck and blame someone else to keep yourself out of the fire, but there’s something so refreshing and beautiful about a client/designer relationship that can be more honest and more human. The “y’all….I ordered the wrong sofa color. I’m so sorry! I’ll order the new one right now, but I’m so sorry to say it’ll take 8 weeks!” while so frustrating and upsetting to have to admit to, is the best way to deal with mistakes! (And yes, that’s a real example. And yes the sofa came in turquoise instead of beige.)
5. Work your ass off
Working hard all day every day will cover a multitude of sins!! Your hard work will honestly soften the blow of all of the previous tips! Your client’s respect your boundaries when they see you’re head down hind-end up 24/7. The doubter’s will understand your worth when they see you’re working harder than them. Your mistakes will be forgiven and covered in grace when it’s plain to see you’re giving your all.
From the very beginning we had so many people say “don’t you have someone who will do that for you?” Which always made us laugh! like…lol girl I WISH we had someone who would do this for us? But who do you mean? Who else is going to climb the 14 footer and hang these 50 pound stars from the ceiling? Who else is going to install client furniture, rearrange the store, and help Charlie run the wiring to the new fixtures? Our philosophy is, if you’re not willing to do it, then you don’t deserve the rewards that come from doing it.
lol. I hate this tip. Sarah’s right, it needs to be in here. But I still hate it. I’M STILL LEARNING! LOL. When you do number 5 right, and you work hard every dang day, you MUST check in with your heart, your body, your mind, and you MUST commit to rest when needed. Man, this one is so tough for me y’all. Every family vacation we go on, when we have to shut down the store fills me with such anxiety! It’s “what if someone comes to buy a pillow but now they can’t?!” And “What if something goes wrong at a client’s house?!” Or worse off “What if someone thinks we’re lazy?!” My nightmare!
But it’s true, and it’s so important, and thank God I have reasonable Sarah as a partner to remind me! Y’all need to pray for me here because even writing it is giving me anxiety!
7. Be Thankful
These past 5 years have been insane and unbelievable highs, followed by near-debilitating lows. We’ve learned that pouring out thankfulness during the highs protects you from ugly pridefulness. We could not be more thankful for our incredible client’s who trust us with their homes, and thier visions, and their money. We could not be more thankful for our faithful and wonderful subcontractors who faithfully come to work every day, on time, with a great attitude, excited for more work! We could not be more thankful for our shoppers who encourage us with every small word of “ooh that smells good” and “it looks so beautiful in here!” For our employees who work so hard, our landlord who took a risk with us, for our friends who have helped us endlessly when we needed it, and for our doggies who give us all the good snuggles when we’re tired at the end of the day!
And during the lows, we’ve learned that we’re actually still thankful for all the same things as we are during the highs. There’s really no distinction. Because even when things are terrible, we still have incredible clients, faithful subcontractors, and amazing shoppers! The things that go bad can’t diminish the thankfulness for the things that go good. In fact I daresay the lows highlight how bright and shiny the good is.
We are truly so blown away, so blessed, and so ridiculously grateful for these past 5 years. We absolutely love our jobs, this business, this store, and everything that comes with it! Lord, if it’s in your plan, please give us 50 more years of this madness and joy!
– Katie and Sarah